Rose Riley completes 60-year journey in CNE’s Adult 22-Plus program

Rose Riley doesn’t talk about the “good old days,” when she would walk 14 miles to school in her bare feet in a snowstorm to get an education. Instead, she accomplished something as impressive this summer.

Riley, 77, a Bethel resident, is the most recent graduate of the Adult 22 Plus Program at Clermont Northeastern Local School District, which gives adults 22-and-older the chance to complete their high school course of study and earn a diploma. She received her diploma at the Sept. 20 Board of Education meeting at CNE Middle School.

Riley – then Rose Arnett - was attending Taft High School in Downtown Cincinnati when she left school in the 10th-grade to help her single mother take care of the household – a household of nine children. Rose Riley fell right in the middle of the familial order.

“I took a job to help out at home. I went to school during the summer when school was out and never went back. Dropped out in the 10th-grade,” Riley recalled. “And I always wanted to get my high school diploma, and something always seem to come up.”

Riley worked at various factory jobs, including the old Roth Shirt Co., which is where she was employed when she dropped out. The money was good, and needed – too good to just walk away.

“I just had the intentions of going there in the summer, just working in the summer and going back to school, but somehow I seem to get talked out of not going back, the paychecks seemed good and sure enough, I didn’t go back,” she said.

She eventually married Randill Riley, and they raised three children. – Beckum, who is a CNE graduate, and Brandy and Kimberly, who are Bethel-Tate graduates. Randill is retired from the Village of Bethel as an electrician. Rose became a certified nursing aid – “I got through that, I did get that,” she said – before retiring last year. That free time gave her a chance to fill a void.

“I heard about the program out of the newspaper advertisement, and when I heard that they do one-on-one, I thought ‘That’s for me’ because I’ve tried other times and it just didn’t get to me how to do this, catch on to that, because I’d been out of school 50 years, and this one did it,” Riley said of the Adult 22-Plus Program.

“I was at the point that I was going to go to this school for how long it took, two to three years, five years, I was ready to keep going, because the program just worked for me. My instructor, (program coordinator) Bob (Havrilla), he seemed to get through to me. If one explaining way didn’t work, he would try another way to explain how to work out a problem or the meaning of something, and it would just click. Right away, I knew if I was going to get my diploma this time, it was going to be here at this program.”

Havrilla, who has now graduated 39 through the Adult 22-Plus Program and has another 40 or so in the system, marveled at Riley’s initiative and perseverance.

“She needed 11 credits, or nine credits, which was 11 subjects. She was very dedicated, very supportive, very eager to learn. She attended class every day that we offered class. She started when we got there on time and she stayed until we left. Every day,” he said.

Riley began in the program in early July; her course of study took 3 1/2 weeks.

“I offered four days a week, and she was there every day,” Havrilla said, acknowledging some challenges faced with designing a curriculum for someone who had been out of school for 50 years.

“I’ve had a couple that needed like 13, but trying to get her transcript, that was … we couldn’t find one, the school couldn’t find one. She basically started over. But again, her dedication was super.”

Riley admitted to some nervousness at the beginning, but was determined to get her degree.

“I would have walked from my place in Bethel to get to this school that I was coming to. If I had to walk I would have. The program was just right for me,” Riley said. It helps that Riley, in her own words, “likes to learn.”

“English was coming back. I always did remember it when I dropped out in the 10th-grade that English was my favorite subject and it just seemed to come right back after all this years, the subject. And after the third time of coming I was starting to like learning. I like to learn and it was coming back, I remember, so it wasn’t really forgotten. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to have a hard time, I forgot this, I forgot that,’ and it just seemed like it came back, the subjects did, and I wanted to get more and more. Here I am.”

Degree in hand, she may put it to use.

“Oh, I’m thinking about going to back to work now that I’m a high school graduate. Maybe something better, who knows. Just something to keep me working. I like to work,” she said.

A supportive family – she also has four grandchildren - eased her journey.

“They think it’s great. They know how … my husband knew from the beginning when we were dating that I wanted my high school diploma,” she said. “My kids, they’re very happy that I’m getting it finally. It’s something that I’ve wanted since, I would say, maybe three weeks after I dropped out of high school. I was just sorry. It seems like all through the years something was missing.”

Anyone interested in the program can contact  or 513-625-1211 Extension 350, with any questions.

Any adult who did not complete high school or earn a GED, lives in Ohio, and is over 22 years of age is eligible to enroll, regardless of school district. The flexibility of the program allows adults to work from home or with our caring and compassionate staff.

“It’s never too late. It comes back to you. If you get into a class and you’re wanting to go back and one class doesn’t work for you, try another one, but this program worked for me.

“This program has just changed my whole life, it seems like. It’s wonderful. I recommend it to anyone … that it can be done.”

CNE, in partnership with the community, will provide students with the skills and exploratory experiences that enable them to reach their fullest potential. To accomplish this, the CNE staff will:

• Strive to make children confident and creative builders of their future

• Research, design, and provide the best academic program and learning environment possible for students.

Schools in the CNE District include Clermont Northeastern High School, Clermont Northeastern Middle School, Clermont Northeastern Elementary School and Clermont Northeastern Preschool.